Do as I say, not as I do?
November 21, 2008 § 7 Comments
What advice do you take from, say, the 4 of Pentacles? Is this guy telling you to hold fast or let go? Do you always read it the same way?
Another tarot reader was talking the other day about the 4 of Pents that appeared in one of her readings and she took it to mean “let go, don’t be so controlling”. I remember when I was first learning tarot, that’s the interpretation I saw most often. The “materialistic miser” in this card is usually seen as having some kind of problem. Hey – we say – you can’t go through life hoarding and saving. You’ve got to be prepared to lose in order to gain. As Joan Bunning writes:
“The lesson of the Four of Pentacles is that control is impossible. We stand in the world as in a great ocean. Who could manage or possess such power? The only way to keep from drowning is to ride the currents. The ocean will support us as long as we swim with the flow.”
Which is true, of course. But when the 4 of Pentacles shows up as advice, I’m more likely to read it literally. Stick, save, hoard, accumulate. That’s what the image shows, after all. As advice, isn’t the card telling you, “look at what I’m showing you…do this“?
I remember being greatly perplexed a couple of years ago about how to interpret these sorts of not-negative-but-not-entirely-positive-either-cards, such as the 4 of Pents and the 2 of Swords. I guess it just didn’t seem right to me somehow that the advice of a card would be to do the exact opposite of what it depicts. Then someone recommended a book…er, I think it was this one…which took the literal view. So, for example, the advice given would be more like:
4 of Pentacles = hold on tight, be possessive, be controlling (as opposed to release)
2 of Swords = claim ignorance, don’t get involved, act in denial (as opposed to lift the blindfold and pick a side)
9 of Swords = pay attention to your worries, confront your fears (as opposed to stop worrying unnecessarily)
4 of Cups = wallow, be self-indulgent, lay like broccoli (as opposed to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get off your lazy arse)
This made much more sense to me and I’ve pretty much read them that way ever since. However, I believe there is no right or wrong in this matter. And I’ll add the disclaimer that I reserve the right to use either interpretation in any reading past, present or future. I just find it interesting that there are two distinct ways to approach these type of cards. And I wonder if most readers more often choose one approach over the other.
What say you?